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LIVING IN GERMANY

These are the changes families in Germany need to know about in 2020

Whether it’s proving that children are vaccinated against measles or higher maintenance payments for parents, here are some law changes to look out for in Germany.

These are the changes families in Germany need to know about in 2020
Photo: DPA

Maintenance payments go up for children

Divorced or separated parents in Germany now have to pay more maintenance for their children after changes to the so-called Düsseldorfer Tabelle (Düsseldorf table), which regulates child support, came into force.

Depending on the age of the child the rates have increased by €15 to €21 per month for parents who don't live with their child.

In Germany all children are entitled to child support. If the parents live separately the parent where the child lives provides maintenance in the form of shelter and support, while the other parent has to pay cash.

This is how much children of divorced or separated parents can receive:

  • Children under the age of six should receive at least €369 (instead of the previous €354) from 2020 and from 2021 at least €378 per month from their parent.
  • Children between six and eleven years of age are entitled to €424 (instead of the previous €406) and that will rise to €434 from 2021.
  • For older children aged 12 to 17, the minimum monthly maintenance is now €497 from 2020 (an increase of €21) and that will go up to €508 from 2021.
  • The rates for older children still living at home and under the age of 25 increase only slightly: from €527 to €530 for the lowest income group. 

In 2018 and 2019 the requirement rates for children over the age of 18 remained unchanged. In contrast, the requirement rate for students who do not live with their parents will rise significantly from €735 to €860 this year.

Other payments for children

The Kinderzuschlag (children's supplement), which is intended for parents with low income who live with their children (under 25-year-olds), rose to €185 per month at the start of the  year.

And, as of January 1st, the upper income limits for the child supplement were abolished. This is intended to expand the amount of families entitled to the child supplement.

READ ALSO: Kindergeld: What you need to know about Germany's child support payments

Parents who don't wish to receive child support can also receive a tax exemption called a Kinderfreibetrag.

This year it rose by €192 per child to €5,172 for parents assessed together, otherwise to €2,486 per parent. In addition, there is a tax-free allowance for childcare and education or training needs. This amounts to €2,640. The two allowances are added together to determine the income tax deduction.

Compulsory vaccination

Measles vaccinations will become compulsorary this year. Photo: DPA

For better protection against measles, the Bundestag has passed a law making a vaccination compulsory. From March 1st, parents will have to prove that their children have been vaccinated before admitting them to daycare centres or schools.

For children who are already attending daycare or school, proof must be provided by July 31st, 2021. Fines of up to €2,500 are to be imposed for violations.

Parents can prove that their children have been vaccinated either with a special certificate, a yellow examination booklet or a medical certificate if the child has already had measles. If this does not happen, the institutions has to report this to the health authorities.

READ ALSO: What's changing in Germany throughout 2020

Day-care fees abolished

As a result of the Good Childcare Act (Gute-Kita-Gesetz) many federal states are reducing the costs for daycare facilities. From this year childcare in the eastern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is now free of charge.

Berlin became the first state to abolish pre-school fees in 2018.

READ ALSO: How each German state plans to lower childcare and Kita costs for families

More money for students

The BAföG (Germany's Federal Training Assistance Act for students at secondary schools and universities) allowance increased from €735 to €861 per month from the start of this year – more students will continue to be eligible in a bid to create more equality.

This change will not only please BAföG recipients, but also many parents who support their studying children. The recent increase in the tax-free amount, flat-rate allowance for basic needs and maximum support rate is part of the new BAföG regulations, which already resulted in students and pupils receiving more money in 2019.

From autumn 2021 when further changes are planned, 100,000 more pupils and students will be able to benefit from the state's training assistance.

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LIVING IN GERMANY

REVEALED: The most commonly asked questions about Germans and Germany

Ever wondered what the world is asking about Germany and the Germans? We looked at Google’s most searched results to find out – and help clear some of these queries up.

Oktoberfest
Hasan Salihamidzic, the sports director of FC Bayern, arrives with his wife at Oktoberfest in full traditional dress. Photo: picture alliance/dpa |

According to popular searches, Germany is the go-to place for good coffee and bread (although only if you like the hard kind) and the place to avoid if what you’re looking for is good food, good internet connection and low taxes. Of course, this is subjective; some people will travel long stretches to get a fresh, hot pretzel or a juicy Bratwurst, while others will take a hard pass.

When it comes to the question on the bad Internet – there is some truth to this. Germany is known for being behind other rich nations when it comes to connectivity. And from personal experience, the internet connection can seem a little medieval. The incoming German coalition government has, however, vowed to improve internet connectivity as part of their plans to modernise the country.

There are also frequent questions on learning the German language, and people pointing out that it is hard and complicated. This is probably due to the long compound words and its extensive grammar rules, however, as both English and German are Germanic languages with similar words in common, it’s not impossible to learn as an English-speaker.

Here’s a look at some of those questions…

Why is German called Deutsch? Whereas ‘German’ comes from the Latin, ‘Deutsch’ instead derives itself from the Indo-European root “þeudō”, meaning “people”. This slowly became “Deutsch” as we know it today. It can be a bit confusing to English-speakers, who are right to think it sounds a little more like “Dutch”, however the two languages do have the same roots which may explain it.

And why is Germany so boring? Again, probably a generalisation, especially given that Germany has a landmass of over 350,000 km² with areas ranging from high rise, industrial cities to traditional old town villages and even mountain ranges, so you’re sure to find a place that doesn’t bore you to tears.

Perhaps it is a question that comes from the stereotype that Germans are obsessed with being strict about rules, organised and analytical. Or that they have no sense of humour – all of these things being not the most exciting traits. 

Either way, from my experience I can confirm that, even though there is truth to German society enjoying order and rules, the vast majority of people are not boring, and I’m sure if you come to Germany you’ll meet many interesting, funny and exciting people. 

READ ALSO: 12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Germany

When it comes to the German weather, most people assume a cold and cloudy climate, however this isn’t entirely true. While the autumn and winter, especially in the north, come with grey skies and sub-zero temperatures, Germany can have some beautiful summers, with temperatures frequently rising above 30C in some places.

Unsurprisingly, the power and wealth of the German nation is mentioned – Germany is the largest economy in Europe after all, with a GDP of 3.8 trillion dollars. This could be due to strong industry sectors in the country, including vehicle constructions (I was a little surprised to find no questions posed on German cars), chemical and electrical industry and engineering. There are also many strong economic cities in Germany, most notably Munich, Frankfurt am Main and Hamburg.

READ ALSO: Eight unique words and phrases that tell us something about Germany

Smart and tall?

Why are Germans so tall? They are indeed taller than many other nations, with the average German measuring a good 172.87cm (or 5 feet 8.06 inches), however this may be a question better posed to the Dutch, who make up the tallest people in the world.

Why are Germans so smart? While this is again a generalisation – as individuals have different levels of intelligence in all countries – this question may stem from Germany’s free higher education system or their seemingly efficient work ethic. Plus there does seem to be some scientific research behind this question, with a study done in 2006 finding that Germans had the highest IQ in Europe.

So, while many of the questions posed about Germany and Germans on Google stem from stereotypes, we can confirm that some aren’t entirely made up. If you’re looking to debunk some frequently asked questions about France and the French, check out this article by our sister site HERE.

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